Sunday, May 3, 2009

Simple Seasonal Cooking

I taught a class today called 'Simple Seasonal Cooking'. I had 15 amazing students who cooked everything from Artichoke and Asparagus Salad to Homemade Pasta with Favas, Mint, and Ricotta-they were stellar. The point of the class was to show them that seasonal produce needs little adornment to make it shine. If you want a quick weeknight dinner, buy what's in season and you'll need so little cooking to have a great meal, you'll wonder why you don't cook more often.

One great example of this was my recipe for a Fruit Tart. I make a graham cracker crust, because even the pastry-phobic can throw that together, and top it with a Mascarpone filling and fresh fruit. Don offered to make it, not being a baker and wanting to tackle the task. It turned out perfect. Of course all the dishes were great but, this happened to be the one I wanted to post because I love the idea that people who don't think they can bake can turn out one killer tart. It's got a cheesecake like flavor, takes under 30 minutes to assemble (plus chilling time), and will surely impress. Give it a try with whatever fruit is in season in your neck of the woods.

Fresh Fruit Tart

2 cups graham crackers (about 8 whole crackers)
½ cup melted butter
2 tablespoons brown sugar
1 cup Mascarpone cheese
2 tablespoons milk
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/3 cup powdered sugar, plus extra for garnish
4 cups fresh berries and/or sliced stone fruit (plums, peaches, apricots, or nectarines)
¼ cup apricot jelly

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Place the graham crackers in the bowl of a food processor and grind until fine crumbs form. Add the butter and brown sugar and continue to process until combined-the mixture should hold together when a small amount is pressed in the palm of your hand. Pour the mixture into a 9-inch tart pan with a removable bottom. With a barely damp hand, press the mixture evenly into the bottom and up the sides of the pan. Bake the crust just until set, about 10 minutes, and cool completely on a rack.

In the bowl of an electric mixer, place the Mascarpone, milk, and vanilla extract and mix with the paddle attachment until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add the powdered sugar and continue to mix until no lumps remain, 2-3 more minutes. Use a spatula to spread the Mascarpone mixture into the cooled crust. Cover the tart and chill until the cream mixture is firm, 1-2 hours.

Just before serving, remove the side of the tart pan. Arrange the fruit in concentric circles, starting at the middle of the tart, to cover all of the Mascarpone mixture. Heat the jam until it thins out then spread it with a pastry brush over the fruit. Cut slices and place them on serving plates, dusting the top of each slice with a bit of powdered sugar.


Anonymous said...

Jodi is a great teacher and we had a great time. She was on top of everything and everyone. Not a simple task.
Every recipe was delicious and we left stuffed and happy (with cookies to go)
Thanks Jodi and Thank YOU Drew for the gift and your company.

Angie said...

I cannot WAIT to make this tart...desserts are not typically my forte but I'm pretty sure I could tackle this one and it definitely sounds impressive - always a great tidbit or many on your blog, Jodi. Keep it up - love it!

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